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Sarah Thomas

CEDC 77200 Fieldwork and Teaching Seminar

Dr. Debbie Sonu
Fall 2015
Reflection on Observation Lesson #1: Read Aloud of The
Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Since school began in September, literacy instruction in class 1313 at P.S. 130 has been primarily focused on teaching the students to
identify the emotional traits of characters in a story they read and
providing evidence from the text that supports their claims. Therefore,
for my first observed read-aloud lesson to the class, I wanted to build
upon what the students had already been learning about characters
and finding evidence by teaching a book that was focused on one
central character who exhibited clearly defined emotional traits. The
Rainbow Fish, by Marcus Pfister fit my criteria in that regard, and I
also loved that the story itself is simple but presents a powerful
message about the importance of generosity and helping others and
provided an opportunity to incorporate these concepts into a literacy
lesson. Thus, in addition to reinforcing and expanding the classs
understanding of character traits and evidence, I was also able to get
them to think about and discuss an important concept that has broad
personal and societal implications.
To prepare for this lesson, I read through the book several times and
chose places in the story where I would ask the class questions. Mostly
I asked the students how they thought the character felt as a result of
particular actions that took place in the story, as well as making
predictions about what they think might happen next or how the
character might feel next. I had seen my cooperating teacher Ms.
Chiang ask questions like this in previous lessons, so I knew the
students were already engaged in this type of thinking, and I wanted to
expand on it. These questions also related back to two of the common

core reading standards I was trying to align my lesson to: (1) RL.1.1:
Ask and answer questions about key details in a text (2) RL.1.3:
Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key
In prior read-aloud lessons on character traits, Ms. Chiang had
asked the students to come up with the traits themselves during the
discussion. However, I decided to provide the trait (generous) myself
because I specifically wanted to teach the students about generosity
and was concerned that first graders might not have come up with that
trait on their own.

In retrospect, I think this may have stifled their

thinking a little bit. As explained in my revised lesson plan, if I were to

teach this lesson again, I would also ask the students to come up with
their own traits to describe the Rainbow Fish during their independent
work time following the read aloud.
Overall, I was pleased with how my lesson went. I think I did a
good job capturing the students attention and keeping them engaged
throughout the reading. I know they were engaged because more
students raised their hands during my questions than I had time to call
on! I especially liked the way I introduced the word generosity before I
even began to read the book. Asking the students to share what they
thought generous means, and then having them turn and talk to a
partner about a time when they acted generously got them interested
in the book before I even started to read it to them. It also enabled
them to make a text-to-self connection, which is an important literacy
strategy that the class has been working on since the beginning of the
semester. I also liked the way in which I wove vocabulary instruction
into the lesson by calling attention to certain words and asking them to
use clues within the text to determine the meaning. This is not
something I have seen my cooperating teacher do and it is an
important literacy strategy that the children will need to learn.

Although it was wonderful that the students had so much to say

in response to my questions, it became difficult at some points to
move forward with my lesson. This was something that came up in my
debrief with Dr. Sonu, who suggested that I could ask fewer openended questions (i.e., what do you think the character will do next?)
and replace them with engagement statements such as Raise your
hand if you think the Rainbow Fish will give away her scales. I really
liked this suggestion because not only would this type of questioning
be less disruptive to the flow of my instruction, but it might also get
students who are shy about speaking in front of the class to
participate, and it would allow me to make the conversation more
focused. Asking these types of questions is something I definitely want
to incorporate into my teaching moving forward and I plan to explicitly
build them into my lesson plans.
A second area I feel I need to improve in is giving more attention
to struggling learners. During my limited time in the classroom, I have
been struggling with how to do this. I think one strategy is to go over
to those students who I know struggle during the independent work
and help them. This is something I will definitely make a point of doing
in subsequent lessons.
Example of a students work: